Son Of Psychotherapy Sex Cult Leader Speaks Out In The Fourth Wall Docuseries

Screen Rant/June 28, 2023

Screen Rant is proud to present an exclusive clip from the character-driven documentary series The Fourth Wall, which premiered in early June at the Tribeca Film Festival. The docuseries is told from the perspective of Keith Newton, who was born into the Sullivanian cult courtesy of his father, leader Sal Newton. Hiding in plain sight during the 1970s and '80s, the Sullivanians were a “psychotherapy sex cult” on Manhattan's Upper West Side that eschewed the nuclear family dynamic. In their heyday, they even ran an experimental theater troupe called the Fourth Wall.

The Fourth Wall explores the draw of such an organization, like many other cult documentaries before it. Audiences will be introduced to Newton's perversion of psychiatrist Harry Stack Sullivan's teachings as well as understand the allure of affordable rent options in New York City, but they will also learn about the lasting effects on the members. The docuseries tells the story of the Sullivanians' pinnacle as well as its downfall in 1991, and then it goes further by following the healing process of ex-members, starting with Keith himself. But to first understand the myth of the Sullivanians, one must understand the man who gathered them — which is what the below clip aims to do.

Screen Rant's exclusive clip from The Fourth Wall discusses Sal Newton's ambitions and terrifying strengths, from his desire to become a therapist in the first place to his ability to exercise control over the group. Various Fourth Wall members recall the mixture of fear and awe they felt in his presence, sharing details about his temper as well as his countenance. Their descriptions make it evident how he would wield such power over other individuals, but are simultaneously unnerving and bewildering.

From the fictional Hulu show The Clearing to the NXIVM-focused HBO docuseries The Vow, cults have become more of an object of media fascination than ever. While The Fourth Wall certainly taps into this dance with darkness, it also engages with the material from the perspective of someone directly affected by the proceedings. Audiences understand how Keith Newton, one of the series creators, was raised and overcame that childhood with the help of fellow creator filmmaker Luke Meyer's (Darkon, Breaking A Monster) deft storytelling.

The Fourth Wall is a SeeThink Films & Submarine Deluxe production that premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in June and is currently looking for distribution.

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